'Now I can grow cannabis at home'
Günter Weiglein is one of three men in Germany who is allowed to grow his own cannabis thanks to a court ruling last week. But he tells The Local he’s not celebrating just yet.
Weiglein’s four-year legal battle to grow his own cannabis ended last Tuesday, when a court in Cologne ruled for the first time that three seriously-ill patients who needed the drug for medicinal purposes should be allowed to harvest marijuana.
Patients prescribed the drug spend hundreds of euros a month on cannabis and the costs are not being picked up by health insurers.
Weiglein, 49, began smoking marijuana in 2006 to ease the pain after a motorcycle accident he had in 2002.
He suffered multiple broken bones and could not return to work designing car seats for months.
“About two years after the accident the pain started mainly in my back, left shoulder and left knee” he says.
“I had to go to the doctor and try a lot of different drugs, which are more harmful than cannabis.
“The other drugs were okay but they had lots of side effects. I couldn’t sleep, I was sweating in the night, I had stomach aches.
“Then one night I was sitting with friends and a joint was passing around. I had not smoked cannabis since I was 19 but my friend says, ‘hey Günter, try this. It may help’
“I took a couple of tokes and within 30 seconds had a relaxing within my muscles. That relaxation reduced the pain by about 70 percent.”
€900 a month on weed
Weiglein, from Würzburg, Bavaria, says he kept using the drug, but in September 2006 he was stopped by police while driving his pizza van.
He was not high at the time but a blood test tested positive for cannabis. He said he had consumed it the day before.
After that he went to the doctor to have Dronabinol prescribed – the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
German doctors have been allowed to prescribe pot since 2009, but the two grammes-a-day Weiglein needed was costing him almost €900 a month from the pharmacy – and health insurers don't cover the drug.
“That is why I applied to grow my own in 2010,” he says. “I didn’t have the money to buy it.”
“I didn’t feel any emotion [when the court ruling came through],” he says. “I had been working on the case for four years.”
Despite last week’s court victory, Weiglein has not been able to plant any yet. He must wait for his permit and the room he intends to grow it in must also be inspected.
But should Germany relax its drug laws around cannabis for the rest of the population?
“Without a doubt,” Weiglein says. “It should be legalized for everyone. We are talking about a plant. It was legal for thousands of years before the ban.”